By Marcus Goh and Adrian Kuek
Grade Expectations is a weekly feature on education in Singapore. Expect fun activities, useful tips and insightful news on learning. It’s not just about your child’s grades – it’s about raising a great child!
The holidays are coming to an end, and the new school year looms ahead. Although everyone’s preparing for the festive season, school starts merely seven days after the Christmas season – so it’s a very short period between holidaying and studying. Adjusting to the school routine of waking up early and sitting down for lessons for half a day can be challenging for your child, especially in the first few weeks of school.
So here are five ways to combat those back-to-school blues. You don’t have to cut short your holidays, but you can bridge the vast difference between the holiday mood and school days to make going back to school easier for your child.
1. Slowly get back to a regular sleeping schedule
Now that it’s the holidays, chances are that your child has erratic sleep schedules. They sleep late, wake up late, and if you went on holiday there’s jet lag to worry about. There’s no penalty for sleeping or waking up late though, so why worry?
Well, it’s going to be a huge adjustment to your child’s regular sleeping/waking hours when school starts. So what you can do is to slowly get them back to their regular bed times. Get them to sleep earlier by 15 minutes every night until they go back to their school time sleeping schedule. Sleeping 15 minutes earlier every day is easier than suddenly getting them to sleep two hours earlier the night before school, especially since they’ll probably be anxious and unable to sleep the night before the first day of school.
2. Involve your child in getting new textbooks Instead of getting the coming school term’s textbooks for your child, ask them to take charge of the buying. They can look up the book covers of the next textbooks they will have to buy and a few reviews or write-ups about said textbooks, so they have some awareness of their school materials.
Buying the actual textbooks won’t be difficult, but if you can get your child involved in it, you can let them double-check the textbooks before purchasing them. That way, they gain a sense of ownership over their new school books. They’ll have to look at them for an entire year anyway, so you might get as well get them off to a good start!
3. Give them a budget for new stationery
Your child probably doesn’t need new stationery, but this is the one aspect of going back to school that excites nearly all students. Buying stationery is the equivalent of academic shopping, and everyone enjoys having new things to bring to school. You don’t want them to overspend though, so give them a budget for buying new stationery and let them decide what’s important.
If there’s still some money left over, let them put it into their savings so that they feel that they’re in control. Again, it’s about giving children ownership over their studies, and this is one way to achieve that.
4. Ask them to get in touch with classmates again
If your child hasn’t been staying in touch with his or her classmates, now’s the time to get reacquainted. Ask them to send a Merry Christmas or Happy New Year text to get reconnected.
On a parental level, now’s the time to get in touch with your child’s classmates’ parents. You’re all equally concerned and nervous about the first day of school (sometimes more so than your child), so it’s good to share mutual worries and develop that support network. Plus, you can catch up on any information or updates that you might have missed out, and that will prevent any unwanted surprises in the new term.
5. Slowly set limits on leisure activities
It’s painful but necessary to get your child used to not using their mobile devices so much, playing fewer games, and watching fewer shows. You don’t have to enforce a strict ban on everything, but you should try to slowly cut back on their playtime and help them get used to the academic routine.
So what should you do in lieu of playtime? You could get them to study, but that will be challenging. Instead, get them to read books and newspapers (if they don’t) or write short pieces reflecting on their holidays. This will get their hands used to writing again, and also shift their gears back to studying.
It’s going to be time for school again, so make sure that you and your child are ready!
Adrian Kuek runs Joyous Learning, an enrichment centre that specialises in English, Mathematics, Science and Creative Writing for Primary. He previously served as the academic director of one of Singapore’s largest enrichment centre chains for over seven years.
Marcus Goh runs Write-Handed, a creative writing studio. At the same time, he teaches Secondary English at The Write Connection. He has been a specialist tutor for English and Literature (Secondary) since 2005.